Big Ceramic Store Blog

Clay - Putting Handles In Motion

It used to be, that whenever I wanted to put a "motion" handle on a clay project, I would turn to bamboo handles. Recently thought, I've started making them from clay.

When you want to put a movable clay handle on your project make sure you plan it out well. There are numerous things to consider;

  1. Shape
  2. Glaze or no glaze on the handles
  3. Attachment
  4. Design
  5. Drying/firing

I've had a few failed attempts at handles in motion so I thought I'd share some tips to help you be successful with your handles. First of all, it's not as easy in the beginning as you might think. If you don't have the body and handle angles just right they won't move freely. They may look good when you put them together, however; once you bisque fire you may be disappointed.

For example; a customer from one of my basket workshops asked if I could make handles for his basket that move. I said I would give it a try but couldn't guarantee anything.

He was a first time project maker with no clay experience, and watching him assemble the basket, I knew he had manipulated the clay a LOT making warping a high probability. In the end, it wasn't worth the risk.

Here's a project I'm making though that I believe will be a good frame for motion handles, and here are some reasons why....

Squaring the ends and taping the top while it's drying will make it easier to fit handles that are symmetrical.

baskettape sides
Let's make some handles for this basket. First, roll out a slab of clay about 1/4" thick and cut two straps.

handle
It's easier to decorate them while they are flat, so feel free to do it now.

plastic wrap
Using a piece of plastic wrap works well for removing small design pieces

Once you've impressed the design, just lift the plastic wrap off the clay
Once you've impressed the design, just lift the plastic wrap off the clay

After you design the handles and smooth the edges, shape them to the body of the basket and allow them to dry to leather hard.

shape handle
Once the handles and body are both leather hard, it's time to work on an attachment that will allow motion.

  • Roll a coil that is no bigger in diameter than the hole you will be putting in the handle and cut 4 even pieces as pegs
  • Make 8 disks that are larger in diameter than the pegs
  • Attach 4 of them to the pegs and let them dry to leather hard
34
  • Place the handle on the body and secure it in place with needle tools
2
  • Cut a hole through the handle and body at the same time
5
  • Insert the peg through the hole you just created and attach a disk to the inside of the peg
6
  • Make sure the handle moves freely and set it aside to dry, covering the handles with plastic, to prevent drying too fast
  • Bisque fire
  • To glaze, wax the peg and disks so no glaze gets in the space or it will freeze the motion

Have Fun!

One thought on “Clay - Putting Handles In Motion”

  • Clay Blog Review: March 2017 - Pottery Making Info | http://www.potterymakinginfo.com/news/clay-blog-review-march-2017/

    […] Big Ceramic Store: Clay – Putting Handles In Motion […]

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